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Underage drinkers who call 911 for help won't be punished under new Florida law

The law takes effect in July.
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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday that will protect underage people from legal problems if they are drinking and call for medical help.

Under specific provisions, House Bill 595 prohibits “the arrest, charge, prosecution or penalization of a person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistant” for someone having an alcohol-related or drug-related overdose.

“Public safety is paramount and it’s critical our young men and women get the medical attention they need in an emergency,” Ron DeSantis said in a news release. “This bill helps ensure our young people on campuses will proactively seek medical help for their peers in emergency situations.”

HB 595 passed the state House and Senate unanimously. The bill was a priority for the Florida Board of Governors, which is the governing body of the state’s public universities. It expands on a 2012 law that grants amnesty to people who call 911 to help someone experiencing a drug-related overdose.

The number of alcohol-related deaths among 18 to 24-year-olds is growing nationally. It increased from 207 deaths in 1998 to 891 in 2014, according to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The bill takes effect on July 1.

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